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Sunday, March 4, 2018

Donald Trump is a president built for the past

It seems axiomatic that the past and the future cannot exist at the same time. Thanks to the space-time continuum, people from different centuries cannot live simultaneously. The same goes for a nation, which cannot survive pulling toward the future and toward the past at once.

The United States is at a fulcrum. We are two countries—one lurching for the future, one yearning for the past—that cannot live together, because we can’t be both things. Donald Trump may have brought on the breaking point, but he didn’t create the schism. It was already there for him to exploit. It was there during enslavement, when President Lincoln declared that the country could not survive half slave, half free, and it took a civil war to force these two nations: one brutal but pastoral, the other urban and focused on finance and technological innovation, often with its own kind of cruelty, to remain under one roof.

Today, Trump is speeding us toward decline—the very decline his supporters so feared. His imperious leadership; his family’s grubby pretense at royalty and the apparent mad dash among members of his cabinet and White House team to hawk their positions for cash and luxuries have the feel of a decrepit regime looting the palace in its final days; stuffing the silver in their coats as they flee into exile.

Trump’s announcement of anachronistic trade tariffs this week was portrayed as out of the blue, but it was no such thing. Trump ran on ending multilateral trade agreements and recreating an America of the distant past that culls every human and material resource from within. Republicans who are now in full blown freakout over a potential trade war voted for exactly what they’re getting.

In every way, Donald Trump is a president built for the past; a benighted, late 19th Century figure who spun his supporters a tale that he could restore a bygone era when coal fires burned, factories hummed, steel mills belched out soot and opportunity and a (white) man with a sturdy back, a high school diploma and a song in his heart could buy a little house, marry a little wife and have 3 cherry-cheeked kids he didn’t ever have to cook or clean for, plus if he can afford it, a hot mistress on the side. Trump is the slovenly but brash, gold-plated emblem of a time when in the imagination of his followers, black women hummed a tune while they cleaned your house or did the washing, black men tipped their hat on the street but didn’t dare look you in the eye, and neither would dream of moving in next door. A time when women asked their husbands for an allowance, not their boss for a promotion, men were “allowed to be men” complete with ribald jokes and a slap on the fanny for the pretty secretary at work, and there were no gays, no trans people, no birth control … they somehow just didn’t exist! The rural folks were the salt of the earth and we only let in “a certain kind of immigrant” whose only goal was to shake off his ethnicity and “assimilate.” Everyone went to (separate) church on Sundays and everyone “got along.” It’s a plasticine world that for many must feel like it truly existed, though of course it never did.  (continues at Daily Beast)

Monday, January 8, 2018


With her spine-tingling Golden Globes speech on Sunday night, Oprah Winfrey lit up the room and social media. Without mentioning President Trump or anything overtly political, she delivered an inspirational stemwinder:
What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have. And I’m especially proud [of] and inspired by all the women who have felt strong enough and empowered enough to speak up and share their personal stories. Each of us in this room is celebrated because of the stories that we tell, and this year we became the story.
She paddled against the tide of self-pity, sectarianism, resentment and meanness that characterizes politics in the age of Trump. Her message was that we are all in this together. She said the story of workplace abuse is universal:
It’s not just a story affecting the entertainment industry. It’s one that transcends any culture, geography, race, religion, politics or workplace. So I want tonight to express gratitude to all the women who have endured years of abuse and assault because they, like my mother, had children to feed and bills to pay and dreams to pursue. They’re the women whose names we’ll never know. They are domestic workers and farmworkers. They are working in factories, and they work in restaurants, and they’re in academia, engineering, medicine and science. They’re part of the world of tech and politics and business. They’re our athletes in the Olympics, and they’re our soldiers in the military.
She ended with the sort of self-affirming optimism that has made her a star. “I’ve interviewed and portrayed people who’ve withstood some of the ugliest things life can throw at you, but the one quality all of them seem to share is an ability to maintain hope for a brighter morning, even during our darkest nights,” she said. “So I want all the girls watching here, now, to know that a new day is on the horizon! And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say ‘Me too’ again.” (Washington Post)

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

A president who'd all but call a senator a whore is unfit to clean toilets in Obama's presidential library or to shine George W. Bush's shoes

With his latest tweet, clearly implying that a United States senator would trade sexual favors for campaign cash, President Trump has shown he is not fit for office. Rock bottom is no impediment for a president who can always find room for a new low.

Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky for Chuck Schumer and someone who would come to my office “begging” for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump. Very disloyal to Bill & Crooked-USED!
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday dismissed the president's smear as a misunderstanding because he used similar language about men. Of course, words used about men and women are different. When candidate Trump said a journalist was bleeding from her "wherever," he didn't mean her nose.  
And as is the case with all of Trump's digital provocations, the president's words were deliberate. He pours the gasoline of sexist language and lights the match gleefully knowing how it will burst into flame in a country reeling from the #MeToo moment.

A president who would all but call Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand a whore is not fit to clean the toilets in the Barack Obama Presidential Library or to shine the shoes of George W. Bush.

This isn’t about the policy differences we have with all presidents or our disappointment in some of their decisions. Obama and Bush both failed in many ways. They broke promises and told untruths, but the basic decency of each man was never in doubt.  

Donald Trump, the man, on the other hand, is uniquely awful. His sickening behavior is corrosive to the enterprise of a shared governance based on common values and the consent of the governed.

It should surprise no one how low he went with Gillibrand. When accused during the campaign of sexually harassing or molesting women in the past, Trump’s response was to belittle the looks of his accusers. Last October, Trump suggested that he never would have groped Jessica Leeds on an airplane decades ago: “Believe me, she would not be my first choice, that I can tell you.” Trump mocked another accuser, former People reporter Natasha Stoynoff, “Check out her Facebook, you’ll understand.”  Other celebrities and politicians have denied accusations, but none has stooped as low as suggesting that their accusers weren’t attractive enough to be honored with their gropes.

If recent history is any guide, the unique awfulness of the Trump era in U.S. politics is only going to get worse. Trump’s utter lack of morality, ethics and simple humanity has been underscored during his 11 months in office. Let us count the ways: